14 March 2017

Bring on the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins

Bring on the Blessings

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Women's fiction
Format: Kindle e-book
Sweet or hot?: Sweet; there are references to sex but no explicit scenes and a few four-letter words

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make a purchase, I will get a few coins and my coffee budget will thank you. However, if you are skint and have to borrow the book from your library, I understand.

Beverly Jenkins is an author whose name is bandied about a lot on blogs and podcasts that focus on romance novels. In fact, if those were your only sources of information, you may come to believe that Jenkins is the only black romance author in America. She is certainly the first one mentioned whenever someone asks for romances written by people of color. Because I tend to be a contrary soul, I have resisted picking up any of her books partly for that reason. However, in an effort to break out of my rut and read more black authors, I picked up one of her books. Leave it to me to pick one of the few books in her catalog that isn't a romance! Anyway . . .

Bring on the Blessings starts off with the story of how Bernadine Brown became a multimillionaire and decided to put her money to good use. In her case, that turned out to be buying a town that was deeply in debt. Since it was one of the original townships set up by freed slaves after the Civil War, many people are interested in keeping it alive and preserving its history. Add in a few foster kids and some townspeople who aren't happy about the town's new owner, and you have the setup for this novel.

I would say that this book would be filed under "women's fiction" rather than romance. It endeavors to be the story of the redemption of a town and as such follows an ensemble cast rather than focusing on one hero and heroine. There are slight romantic elements but they aren't the main focus of the book. The majority of the characters, including the romantic couples, are over 30 which makes a refreshing change from the 18-year-old virgins in most of the historical romances I read. Yes, I said "couples" because there are two couples making eyes at each other. One doesn't end up together (yet) and the conflict keeping the other couple apart is solved with one quick conversation. There is a nod to a third possible couple that may get together in a future book.

This is the first book of six, and it feels like it. I didn't get hooked by the story until about 50% of the way into it because the first half involved fleshing out the details already disclosed in the summary. This isn't necessarily a bad thing when all six books have already been published and I can get the next one at the click of a button on my library's website. I would have been more disappointed if I was reading this back in 2009 when it was published and had to wait another year for the next book.

I get the feeling from this first entry in the Blessings series that these will be what I call gentle books. Nothing momentous happens; any conflicts are resolved quickly. Some people may call that dull or unrealistic, but I think there is a readership for books where a white knight (who happens to be a black woman for a change -- huzzah!) sweeps in with a seemingly bottomless purse and a magic contact list to solve all the problems. The key to making this kind of story enjoyable is to create characters that a reader wants to spend time with, and I think Jenkins has done just that. I'll definitely be reading the next book.

Bring on the Blessings at Overdrive
Bring on the Blessings at Book Depository
Bring on the Blessings at Amazon

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